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I’ve always stressed the importance of having a vacation budget in place. By having one, you can accurately estimate your costs and start saving for your trip. I find that people who don’t budget for their trips end up spending more than they anticipated.

This might not be an issue if you have the money available, but do you really want to spend more than you wanted to? What if you don’t have the cash ready and end up putting all those extra expenses on credit? That’s an expensive mistake to be making. The following are things you’re forgetting to budget for your next vacation.

Things You’re Forgetting to Budget for Your Next Vacation

Admission costs

When youre on vacation it’s easy to want to go and see every attraction, but those things add up fast! If you’re travelling as a couple, you could spend $50 – $100 a day on attractions alone. Fortunately, there are a few ways to save. I personally look for free museums or free days. There are also many passes available in major cities that will give you discounted admission for a set price. One popular pass is the CiytPASS which is available in 12 cities in Canada and the U.S.

Food

This really should be a surprise, but many people fail to budget properly for food. It’s so easy to go over budget when you’re eating out practically every meal, but at the same time, you don’t want to cheap out and not be able to afford certain things when you see them. Try to balance restaurants with quick meals so you can still enjoy the local cuisine.

Exchange fees

Most credit cards charge 2.5% on top of the spread whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency. This same charge applies when you withdraw money from an ATM. 2.5% may not sound like a lot, but trust me, these fees add up fast. Fortunately, you can reduce these fees quite a bit, in some cases to zero. Read my guide on the best ways to exchange money for a full breakdown

Airline fees

Everyone knows by now that airlines fees keep increasing. Depending on where you’re flying to you may need to pay for checked baggage, seat selection, meals, entertainment, and even blankets. Seriously, you could add $50 – $100 to your trip in airline fees alone per person.

Parking

When I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway. I couldn’t believe how much I ended up spending on parking. Every time I parked on the street in the city I was paying $2 – 3 an hour. Hotels are the worst, my hotel in L.A. wanted $25 a night. I refused to pay that much so I checked Google street view for nearby parking garages that had more reasonable rates.

Transportation

Transportation costs really depend on how many places you visit and what you plan on doing. I personally always look up how to use public transportation in the cities I’ll be visiting since cabs are expensive. That being said, Uber has become a good alternative since their rates tend to be very reasonable.

Mobile data

Data has become so important in our lives that it’s hard to imagine travelling without being connected. Many mobile providers offer roaming plans, but they don’t offer the best value. I personally prefer KnowRoaming since you can save up to 85% on voice and data charges in 200+ countries, plus you get free Whatsapp access. Use my referral code BARCHO954 to get 50% and a $5 credit.

Shopping

I admit that I enjoy shopping when I travel but it’s really easy to go overboard. These days I try to just buy things that I need regardless of where I am. I do admit that I like to pick up a magnet wherever I travel to. It’s okay to pick some tacky souvenirs now and then.

Travel Insurance

The cost of medical attention can be incredibly expensive, so you always need to have travel medical insurance whenever you leave the country. Travel insurance isn’t even that expensive. It’ll cost you just a few dollars a day, yet many people don’t even bother because they don’t know any better. Trip cancellation and baggage insurance are optional, but travel medical insurance really is a must. For more details about travel insurance, check out my ultimate guide.

Visas

Not every country requires an entry visa and not all of them are expensive, but they are one of those vacation costs that add up. In many cases, you can get them before you depart so it’s easy to budget for, but sometimes you’ll need to obtain them when you arrive which is an “added” expense to your journey.

Final word

It’s unlikely you’ll be paying for all of the above in a single trip, but you can see how they could easily add up to a few hundred dollars if not a thousand dollars pretty quickly. Always budget for your vacations otherwise you might end up scrambling to find the cash to pay off your credit card bill when you return home.

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About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

7 Comments

  1. Avatar Anum Yoon on March 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM

    Great list! I agree that visa requirements are important to check beforehand. My brother recently visited Canada without double checking (since Koreans are visa exempt) but they had recently changed the rules so couldn’t get on the flight (thus wasting his non-refundable ticket). This article is also timely for me, since I’m planning on traveling through Thailand next week!

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 24, 2017 at 9:17 AM

      Hi Anum,

      Yes I always double check visas too. Sometimes they can be a bit confusing as you may be forced to get it in advance from a consulate or tourism office.

  2. Avatar KC on March 24, 2017 at 10:53 AM

    Food is definitely a plus. My husband and I went down to the east coast where we discovered very quickly how many places were closed after labour day which resulted in us buying high-priced yucky food from those run-down general stores. We spent $50 for lunch (we skipped breakfast due to no places open in a 3-hour radius) until we could get to the nearest town where there was a grocery store. To make matters worse was that their debit machine was down so we barely had enough cash to cover this. Hard lesson learned and now we always keep a few boxes of granola bars and some fruit in the car in case we run into this situation again. It also stressed the importance of always keeping at least $100 in cash split between us. Cash is king in remote areas!

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 24, 2017 at 1:18 PM

      KC,

      Yikes, I remember when I was stopping in Lucerne for about 8 hours during one of my first Europe trips. My brother and I withdrew $100 thinking it would be enough money to get us food for the day. Well after two pastries and drinks, and then lunch at pizza place; we had about $3 left. Fortunately, dinner was included at our hotel.

  3. Avatar Belle on April 12, 2017 at 1:22 AM

    For the mobile data with KnowRoaming, did you get a Canadian phone number with it?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on April 12, 2017 at 9:10 AM

      Belle,

      I’m based in Canada so I’m not sure. Assuming you don’t, you only need to pay like $5 a month to get a Canadian number.

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